Why Spanish? Well ... I tried to learn the French language for years lol (I was terrible at it truthfully). Seems maybe I lacked passion for it, even though I did study it up until the end of my 2nd year of University. Perhaps if I had practiced it more often or had visited places where it was necessary to communicate? I don't know if it would have a made a difference ...
During that trip to the Dominican back in 2007 (click here to read of those adventures), I was in my late 20's and doing some immense soul searching. One of those crossroads where life happens (continually, for a period of time) and you're left sorting out the pieces of the lessons and experiences. I had never traveled, not really, and had no expectations for that trip. I had sunscreen and a suitcase full of clothes, a bubba keg, a hat and a pair of sunglasses...and a very open mind.
|DR "Happy Hour"|
The rush of meeting people, visiting their culture and seeing how they live their life; so different than mine ...it's so humbling, makes me so curious. Noting the difference between 'real' and 'resort' and only wanting to ask 1.2 billion questions about everything in every persons' life I had the fortunate opportunity of connecting with. I vowed that one day I would wake up Spanish during this trip. As I lay on the bed during an afternoon siesta, I stared at the bamboo ceiling fan and all I could think about was how many more people I could meet and talk to if I just knew how to say more than "hola", "cervesa por favor" and "gracias". :)
...fast forward to October 2010, where a visit to Costa Rica led me to believe this really could be me! I, Miss Holiday, could wake up Spanish...seriously! :) A tremendous visit for 2 weeks with an awesome friend from High School (we'll call her Kris), her adventures made my heart sing. She had traveled to a few areas of Central America for a few weeks, returned home for a short period and then decided to put her stuff in storage and take off to live the world....that was nearly 11 years previous. :)
|CR - Vendor Shopping at the Beach|
|Enjoying my time on the Coast of CR|
And here she was, by herself, fluently Spanish, living the life and the culture of this seaside area in the middle of a rainforest. I was in aww (so much love and respect for her). I listened to everything she told me :) ... the one thing that still sticks out the most, "if you're going to do it Heidi, do it...someday you'll be old and it'll be more difficult to learn the language and fit in with the area". (thank you Kris, gracias).
|Costa Rica, 2010 Sunset|
And this is about the time it all started ... I've dubbed it the "red carpet to Spain" lol. Let's back up to October of 2009 and my first trip to Europe. Even before that... 2008. In 2008, I took on a part time job to assist with my love of people and places (also known as: travel lol). October 01, 2008 I quit smoking and vowed as my reward if I could successfully stay off the butts, that I would visit Ireland the next year. So, I worked and worked and continued not to smoke and just before I began to plan my adventures, I believe the Universe began to direct my course. ;)
|Mykonos, Greece 2009|
So here I am, a few months out from my departure date (because I had decided that I was 'going' to Ireland) and my friend calls. She tells me that her and 2 of her girlfriends are going to Europe for 13 days and that she'd like for me to join them. At first I was like "yeah, maybe ... let me think about it" and in the end (thankfully) I decided to join them. It was the most wondrous of trips. None of us had been to Europe and now we'd be touring 4 Countries: Spain, Italy, Greece and Croatia. We'd spend time in Milan, Rome, Venice and Madrid and for the bulk of our journey, we'd be on a Cruise ship (sunset sailing out of Venice Italy...*please pinch me*).
Bet you're wondering what on earth does this have to do with Spain?! haha. It has everything to do with it. Remember I had plans to visit Ireland, that's where I was supposed to be for these two weeks. :) Well, on the cruise ship, you can select who you'd like to have dinner with, table of 2, 4, 6 or 8. We all loved to meet people, so the four of us unanimously selected a table of 8. The first night on the ship, we arrived at our table and introduced ourselves to two couples, one couple there to celebrate their 45th Wedding Anniversary and the other couple, to celebrate their wedding (on their Honeymoon) ... guess where they were from!!! ...One from Ireland and one from Northern Ireland (are you kidding me!?!?) ...Thank you Universe.
|Spendor of the Seas 2009, Family Dinner at the Kings Head (table 99)|
We were now having dinner every night with our Irish / Canadian Family of eight. :) And nothing I can put into words will ever describe this bond / relationship (love, absolute love). I had planned to visit Ireland that Fall and now, here I was each night, on this ship, discussing the adventures of Greece and Croatia as I learned of Ireland and it's history, landscape, customs and ... a heritage, better yet, a legacy.
I underestimated at the time (and I'm still not sure I understand completely the ins and outs of this), just how significant the conversation at dinner would be that night. Day three, dinner on the cruise ship, whilst I was to be in Ireland, I sat next to the kindest man and his lovely wife and they shared with me their knowledge of a clause. Simply put, if my late Grandfather (a man who had passed five years before I was born), if my Grampy was born before a certain date, then I could be eligible for Citizenship. ...absorb that for a second.
If my Grandfather was born before 1921 (in Northern Ireland), I could be eligible for citizenship. It doesn't interfere with anything I am now ...huh.
So in 2011, I went to visit my new Irish Family. In those two weeks there, with their help, hospitality and guidance, I explored all four corners of the Emerald Isle (what an incredible place). I made more friends, I kissed the Blarney Stone for my Birthday, even called my Nana from the top of the castle that day to tell her what I had done...(she's been widowed for over 40 years, and here I was exploring a land and the hometown of the man who had captured her heart...we both wept a little, just a little). A man, who without knowing me or what the future would hold, is responsible for this / these doors being swung open. OMG :) But I'd have never known had it not been for that Cruise, and that table, and those dear friends of mine. (Thank you...thank you).
|Giant's Causeway, N. Ireland 2011|
Upon my return, I was once again reassured that I could do this (hold both) and so I proceeded to apply for Citizenship. As the Universe wished, when I contacted Nana regarding the paperwork I would need, it seems my dear Grandfather had done all the background work necessary. The year before he passed, he was working on his passport to return home for a visit. Nana passed me an envelope of papers and absolutely ALL the documentation was there I needed to apply (I know! I know!).
|Madrid, Spain 2009|
What does all this mean? ... with a valid Irish passport I can live and work in any of the European Member Countries without having a Visa (Spain is one of those countries). Skipping through all the very raw details of the past few years, rest assured the Universe has puts an iron fist down and said "you're going", on more than one occasion hahah. I received Citizenship and wasted no time in applying for my passport.
In February I bought my very first one way plane ticket. I contacted the Consulate, worked more hours at 3 jobs than I thought was humanly possible for most of the year, was granted a leave of absence (I am beyond grateful for this opportunity), packed my stuff, sold what I could, made plans with friends to come visit, had the best send-off parties imaginable, kissed my family, got dropped off at the airport, flew all night and arrived in Germany. ...arrived in Germany to meet two of my pals at the airport. So we could share the last week of Oktoberfest ...and the first two weeks of this amazing journey together. :)
"Red Carpet to Spain" ... just like that. Tons of support, hard work, determination and a Universe that ensures "everything happens for a reason" haha...and here we are. WAKING UP SPANISH.
(be sure to check out Your Adventure Map (at the top of this page) so you can read all previous adventure posts leading up to this one)